Lal Bahadur Shastri 2 October 1904 – 11 January 1966) was the Prime Minister of the Republic of India and a leader of the Indian National Congress party.
Shastri joined the Indian independence movement in the 1920s. Deeply impressed and influenced by Mahatma Gandhi (with whom he shares his birthday), he became a loyal follower, first of Gandhi, and then of Jawaharlal Nehru. Following independence in 1947, he joined the latter’s government and became one of Prime Minister Nehru’s principal lieutenants, first as Railways Minister (1951–56), and then in a variety of other functions, including Home Minister. Shastri was chosen as Nehru’s successor owing to his adherence to Nehruvian socialism after Nehru’s daughter Indira Gandhi turned down Congress President K. Kamaraj’s offer of premiership.
Shastri as Prime Minister continued Nehru’s policies of non-alignment and socialism. He led the country during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1965. His slogan of “Jai Jawan Jai Kisan” (“Hail the soldier, Hail the farmer”) became very popular during the war and is remembered even today. The war formally ended with the Tashkent Agreement of 10 January 1966; he died of a heart attack the following day, still in Tashkent.
1 Early years (1904–1917)
2 The young satyagrahi (1921–1945)
2.1 Independence activism
3 Political career (1947–64)
3.1 State minister
3.2 Cabinet minister
4 Prime minister of India (1964–66)
4.1 Domestic policies
4.2 Economic policies
4.3 Jai Jawan Jai Kisan
4.4 Foreign policies
4.5 War with Pakistan
5 Mystery behind Lal Bahadur Shastri’s death
6 Family and descendants
10 Further reading
11 External links
Early years (1904–1917)
Shastri was born at the house of his maternal grandparents in Mughalsarai, Varanasi as Lal Bahadur Shrivastava, into a Hindu Kayastha family that had traditionally been employed as Highly administrators and civil servants. Shastri’s paternal ancestors had been in the service of the zamindar of Ramnagar near Varanasi and Shastri lived there for the first one year of his life. Shastri’s father, Sharada Prasad Shrivastava, was a school teacher who later became a clerk in the revenue office at Allahabad, while his mother, Ramdulari Devi, was the daughter of Munshi Hazari Lal, the headmaster and English teacher at a railway school in Mughalsarai. Shastri was the second child and eldest son of his parents; he had an elder sister, Kailashi Devi (b. 1900).
In April 1906, When Shastri was hardly one year old, his father, had only recently been promoted to the post of deputy tahsildar, died in an epidemic of bubonic plague. Ramdulari Devi, then only 23 and pregnant with her third child, took her two children and moved from Ramnnagar to her father’s house in Mughalsarai and settled there for good. She gave birth to a daughter, Sundari Devi, in July 1906.
Prime minister of India (1964–66)
Main article: Premiership of Lal Bahadur Shastri
Jawaharlal Nehru died in office on 27 May 1964 and left a void. Then Congress Party President K. Kamaraj was instrumental in making Shastri Prime Minister on 9 June. Shastri, though mild-mannered and soft-spoken, was a Nehruvian socialist and thus held appeal to those wishing to prevent the ascent of conservative right-winger Morarji Desai.
In his first broadcast as Prime Minister, on 11 June 1964, Shastri stated:
“There comes a time in the life of every nation when it stands at the cross-roads of history and must choose which way to go. But for us there need be no difficulty or hesitation, no looking to right or left. Our way is straight and clear—the building up of a socialist democracy at home with freedom and prosperity for all, and the maintenance of world peace and friendship with all nations.”
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